Feds charge former MARTA exec in $500,000 scheme

A former MARTA administrator faces a federal charge for an alleged scheme that bilked the agency out of more than $500,000.

Joseph Erves, MARTA’s former senior director of operations, allegedly used false invoices in which the agency paid for maintenance work that was never performed.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta, Erves funneled most of the money into his personal bank accounts. He allegedly used it to buy a Porsche 911 and for personal expenses at high-end department stores.

“Erves was entrusted to safeguard the taxpayer funds used to run our public transportation authority, and instead he is charged with stealing half a million dollars to buy a Porsche and other high-end purchases,” U.S. Attorney John Horn said in announcing the charge.

“This is a classic case where a public official’s short-term gain in stealing from taxpayers comes crashing down and ends with criminal charges,” Horn said.

Erves, 52, of Lithonia, worked for the agency from 1993 until earlier this year, when he was placed on administrative leave and resigned amid an investigation by the MARTA Police Department. At the time, MARTA said the investigation was “spurred by irregularities found by our internal audit division.”

MARTA issues a statement on Erves Thursday afternoon.

“As a public agency, we take our role as stewards of taxpayer dollars seriously and remain committed to transparency and accountability,” the statement said.

“This isolated incident has led MARTA to enhance our internal safeguards and departmental auditing process to prevent future situations that compromise the Authority’s use of public funds,” MARTA said. “MARTA has a plan in place to recover all misappropriated funds following the final resolution of Mr. Erves’ federal case.”

Erves oversaw the maintenance of all MARTA buses and rail cars and had the authority to approve payments up to $10,000 to vendors.

According to the Justice Department, Erves retained three vendors purportedly to perform maintenance like repairing brake-testing equipment and fixing other tools and equipment. From about June 2010 through December 2016, he allegedly had fake invoices prepared on behalf of the three vendors for more than 40 maintenance projects for which no work was performed.

The Justice Department did not name the vendors.

After being paid, the three vendors funneled most of the money into Erves’ personal bank accounts.

Erves has been charged in a criminal information with one count of Federal Program Theft. He is expected to plead guilty shortly after arraignment.


The AJC's David Wickert keeps you updated on the latest in what’s happening with transportation in metro Atlanta and Georgia. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in Atlanta transportation news. Subscribe to myAJC.com.

In other MARTA news:

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

2 accused of ‘willful killing’ of foster teen found in Atlanta street
2 accused of ‘willful killing’ of foster teen found in Atlanta street

Two men accused of shooting a teenager who was in foster care and leaving her dead in an Atlanta street are in the DeKalb County jail on aggravated assault charges in a separate attempted armed robbery case.  Police believe slain 17-year-old Dennetta Franks may have been involved in the Sept. 19 armed robbery with her accused shooters, Wayne...
Streets named for the Confederacy in Atlanta to be renamed
Streets named for the Confederacy in Atlanta to be renamed

Atlanta streets named for some of the Confederacy’s most recognizable generals and leaders will likely be renamed in the coming weeks, Mayor Kasim Reed is expected to announce as early as today. What names might replace them is unclear, as are plans for other streets, monuments and markers named for rebels, according to a new report by a select...
3 metro Atlantans named ‘Southerners of the Year’
3 metro Atlantans named ‘Southerners of the Year’

Three Georgians — all metro Atlantans — have been named in a list of 60 Southerners who make Southern Living “proud to call this region home.”  Abiodun Henderson, Clarkston Mayor Edward “Ted” Terry and Marian Liou were included as “Southerners of the Year.&rdquo...
‘Not like the movies’: Inside the search for a missing Gwinnett man
‘Not like the movies’: Inside the search for a missing Gwinnett man

On this day, Tracy Sargent and her K-9s are searching for a Lawrenceville man who disappeared more than a year ago in a drug-induced rage. Over the last quarter-century — across the country and around the world — Sargent’s Georgia-based investigation team has helped track good guys and bad, missing persons and escaped convicts...
JUST IN: $7K reward issued in Barcelona Wine Bar manager’s death
JUST IN: $7K reward issued in Barcelona Wine Bar manager’s death

A $7,000 reward is being offered in the particularly heinous shooting of an Atlanta restaurant manager Sunday, police said. Chelsea Beller of Atlanta was forced upstairs to open a safe during a robbery by three men at Barcelona Wine Bar on Howell Mill Road, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. The rest of the employees were tied up...
More Stories